Sweet nothings

The long anticipated report on sugar in our diet by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has finally arrived. It is a seriously solid review of the evidence that we consume more than is good for us and offers easily understood recommendations.

Like London buses, it did not arrive by itself. It was preceded by just a few days by a British Medical Association study titled ‘Food For Thought’ that sees doctors urging a 20% tax on sugary drinks to curb our consumption of them.

And once the SACN report had been published, then Public Health England rushed out its own advice, in which it suggested parents and families need to take the lead in cutting sugary drinks from their children’s diet.

One way or another, the heat is being turned up in the national debate on diet and health. There is no real surprise here; fat and salt have long been demonised, yet the evidence that our health was better as a result has never really materialised.

Caterers and the wider food industry knew that sugar was next in line, and most observers recognise that its inclusion in so many foods, and in such quantities, obviously plays a part in our current high levels of obesity.

The suggestions from doctors, the SACN report and Public Health England make sense – cut back on sugary drinks, especially for children, eat fewer cakes, biscuits and sweetened breakfast cereals, and increase the amount of fibre in diets.

The catering industry, particularly in the public sector, needs to react quickly with menus, recipes and the information people need to make healthier food choices.

This is not a case of ‘nannying’ people, because most of us are unaware just how much sugar there is in our diets. It’s about providing information and healthier alternatives to choose from.

Moving from food consumed to food that isn’t, this month’s cover story looks at the vast amounts of food that we waste every year and the plans to cut that figure significantly.

It’s bad enough that good food goes to waste, but it is particularly egregious that so much is sent to landfill still when there are so many useful ways it can be reused to generate heat, fuel and fertiliser.

Sweet nothings

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